Oprah Winfrey, renowned talk show hostess, actress, and media entrepreneur, spoke at the Golden Globes Awards Sunday, January 7, accepting her lifetime achievement award.

Her acceptance was a heartfelt statement that began with her memory of the day in 1964 when the Academy Award for Best Actor went to Sidney Poitier. It was the first time she had seen “a black man being celebrated like that.”

 

From that beginning, the speech built to a rousing conclusion about the human “ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights,” and her own hope that a new day is now dawning, one that will be the legacy of “a lot of magnificent women, many of them right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard.”

Her speech touched off serious talk of a Presidential candidacy for Winfrey. This is at least a boomlet, if it is not yet a boom.

A very busy news week later, on Friday, January 12, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said that “many of us would be supportive and pushing her along and playing our part” if she did run. It was not entirely clear from the context who the “us” was, in Lewis’ mind.

Right Wing View

The right wing response to the boomlet is, “bring it on! Trump will beat her.”  Mike Allen, a Canadian who supports conservative politics on both sides of the border,  retweeted a poll showing that President Trump would win re-election with 47.91% of the vote to Winfrey’s 23.95%, with a theoretical third party candidate getting 14.83% and the remaining poll participants undecided.

Other polls, it should be said here, have had very different results.

Meanwhile, a gentleman in Massachusetts who tweets as “American Real News” says, “Oprah for President? What a joke! I didn’t think the libs could get any dumber but I was wrong.”  He attaches to this statement the now-ubiquitous image of Oprah planting a kiss on the cheek of disgraced Hollywood mogul (and sexual predator) Harvey Weinstein.

One can read about the context of that photo here.

Yet within the President’s circles, Oprah has at least one admirer. POTUS’ daughter Ivanka Trump called Winfrey’s speech “empowering & inspiring.”

Left Wing View

Since the 2020 election is a long way away, and the politics of that year will be shaped by as yet unknown facts such as the results of the Congressional election in November of this year, it is unsurprising that the left is as of yet unwilling to sign up for any specific candidate for President.

Stephanie Ruhle, an MSNBC anchor, writes simply, “We need her [Oprah] to be President.”

Kurt Andersen, writing in Slate, provided an elaborate anti-Oprah argument from what one might safely call a center-left perspective, blaming Ms Winfrey for giving “national platforms and legitimacy” to “all sorts of magical thinking, from pseudoscientific to purely mystical fantasies about extraterrestrials, paranormal experience, satanic cults, and more.”  The problem with the United States, from Andersen’s perspective, is that it has abandoned “reason and science in favor of the wishful and imaginary.” Oprah isn’t the solution. She is part of the problem.

Julia Belluz, writing in Vox, makes roughly the same point.  She says that the Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran from 1986 to 2011, repeatedly offered a forum for “crackpots and quack medical theories.” She blames Oprah for helping to spread the idea that vaccines cause autism, which “has never been supported by science,” but instead is spread and supported by people who think the “University of Google” is as solid a place to acquire expertise as any other.

Another leftward voice, Dahlia Lithwick, sees much of the #Oprah2020 stuff as missing the point of the Golden Globes speech. “Oprah’s speech … wasn’t about why she needs to run for office. It was about why the rest of is need to do so, immediately.”